A confluence of events, all disguised as positive news, is conspiring to kill a lot of Americans, and we’re the co-conspirators.
First the five items of good news:
Biden won, and at last the possibility exists for a plan to combat the virus.
Vaccines are being tested, and most are having extraordinarily good outcomes.
More people have tacitly signed on to the mask-up experience, and that will slow the spread.
Treatments and protocols are saving more lives than ever, and Covid-19, though frightful, is no longer a death sentence.
The holidays are coming!
Now the bad news. Well I won’t bother listing it because it’s the same list. Let me explain.
1. Biden will not assume the presidency for another two months, one of which has 31 days. That leaves Trump to ignore the plague and even dismiss it as overblown or a hoax, and it leaves those who blindly follow him even more vulnerable to acquire and spread it.
2. An infinitesimally small number of Americans will receive a Covid-19 vaccine before 2021, leaving most of us susceptible into next spring. There is a tendency on the part of many to equate laboratory testing with general distribution. It's not the same. There are 87 preclinical vaccines in active development. Only 12 have gotten as far as large-scale efficacy tests. None have been approved. None.
3. Many latecomers to the mask experience treat their newfound friend like a potent shield around them, one which will fend off not only aerosols and droplets but, probably, radioactive fallout and meteorites. It’s not. It’s a mask. It may keep you from spreading the virus and to a slightly lesser extent help protect you from acquiring it, but it isn't a cure. Most important, it isn't a get-out-of-jail-free card that opens up homes to large gatherings in closed spaces—or ewven open spaces. The carolers on your lawn singing Good King Wenceslas through masks may be charming, but don't invite them in for hot chocolate.
4. Treatments and protocols are dependent upon the number of experts available to provide them. During the spring siege on the East Coast, people died in horrible numbers when hospitals became overrun and equipment could not keep up with demands. That situation exists again—this time everywhere. And though the Northeast is starting from a better infection rate, the number of cases is rising and the number of deaths will follow, especially as medical personnel become overworked again, and in many cases, regrettably, ill themselves. You can blame the president for his ignorance and stupidity (and rightly so) but we still have a modicum of control over our destiny
5. Covid-19 does not care about the pilgrims, or the “helper” candle on the menorah, or the eight reindeer, or the three wise men, or Zuzu’s petals. Its concern for the holidays is purely utilitarian: more people closer together mean more infection with less effort. And when we rationalize that we sacrificed enough and we’re owed something, that's akin to stealing your neighbor’s car and taking it for a joyride, then after you wreck it, explaining to him that you’d been a good neighbor for a long time and he owed you one. He didn't. The virus is that thankless neighbor. Don't steal his car.
We all know that calendars are merely suggestions—they provide no guarantees—and whether or not any of us live to see another holiday season after this one is unknown. But we can improve the odds with some wisdom and self-discipline.
And yes, self-sacrifice. None of this is easy but we've done it before. During World War II we planted victory gardens and went without sugar, without meat, without a new car for five years while auto plants built airplanes. We've been under the gun for only nine months, and while it's logical and understandable to complain (I'm getting good at it) it's even more logical and understandable to want to live past this, and to want others to live with us.
It can be done. Make good choices. Masks, distance, hand sanitizer, etc. Oh, and if you must offer the carolers refreshment, leave it outside in disposable cups—in case you want them to come back next year. The carolers—not the cups.